Perfect Even in Death

John 19:32-34 “The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”

Over Fourteen hundred years earlier God had given Moses instructions about how Passover lambs were to be chosen and treated. They had to be year old males, males in the prime of their lives, without blemish. As the lambs were sacrificed and prepared, their bodies must be kept intact. No bones were to be broken. These sacrificial lambs were to be perfect in every way. After all, God was accepting these animals in place of the lives of the first-born sons of the people of Israel. For such an exchange he was not satisfied with second-rate, crippled animals. He demanded the best.

On this Passover, Jesus himself was the sacrificial lamb, offered up in the prime of his life in exchange for the lives of all Israel, and all people. After all the abuse his body had taken over the past 24 hours, the point of his legs not being broken could easily be lost on us. But God was making a statement here: this Son of his was the perfect Passover Lamb. Even in death his bones remained intact, and he remained fully qualified to give his life in exchange for ours as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Since the soldiers weren’t going to break Jesus’ legs, they looked for another way to be sure of his death. The point of the spear was likely pressed against his body just below his rib cage, and then thrust up into his chest and through his heart. The sudden flow of blood and water which the John saw would be consistent with the spear piercing the pericardium, the sack around the heart, and then the heart itself. Thus the last blood which Jesus shed for us flowed directly from his very heart.

For John and the women who witnessed all this, the piercing of Jesus’ side was the final blow. If there had been any hope up to this point that Jesus had not died, but merely passed out on the cross, now it was gone. The spear removed all doubt that Jesus was dead.

But Jesus had to die if he was going to be the perfect sacrifice for you, and for me, and for our world. He did not come to be merely a great moral example, or a great moral teacher. He came “to give his life as a ransom for many.” Those are his own words. The wages of our sin is death, and the blood and water flowing from Jesus’ side confirm that Jesus has died, just as we needed him to do.

Can a dead man still love you? Maybe we find it unsettling, even frightening, to realize that, in Jesus’ death, God has died. But even in death this God is infinitely powerful. And more important, even in death, his love for you continues unwavering and unimpaired. He is perfect for you, even in his death.

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